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Biodiversity in extreme aquatic environments: Lakes, ponds and streams of the Ross Sea sector, Antarctica

The Ross Sea Sector (RSS) of Antarcticallies between the lines of longitude 150°E and 150°W and contains diverse landscapes with a variety of lakes, ponds and streams. Neither insects nor crustacean species have been recorded in these ecosystems but most contain planktonic and/or benthic communities that are composed exclusively of microscopic organisms. Microbial brodiversity is low with a small number of species (e.g. filamentous cyanobacteria of the family Oscillatoriaceae) occurring under a broad range of environmental conditions throughout the region. There is no evidence to date of microbial endemism in the RSS; however, there is a need to apply molecular and cellular techniques to compare biodiversity and genetic characteristics with assemblages elsewhere in Antarctica and with comparable communities in the north polar zone. A series of hypotheses are advanced to help guide further work. These derive from the conclusion that environmental extremes plus biogeographical isolation control the biodiversity of RSS communities, and that biological interactions (competition, grazing, predation, parasitism) are weak and play a minor role by comparison with temperate latitude ecosystems.

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Vincent, W.F., James, M.R. Biodiversity in extreme aquatic environments: Lakes, ponds and streams of the Ross Sea sector, Antarctica. Biodivers Conserv 5, 1451–1471 (1996).

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  • algae
  • Antarctica; cyanobacteria
  • freshwater
  • limnology
  • microbial
  • polar
  • protozoa